Coveting Land, Targeting Homes, Shelters and Shelter Seekers: Israel’s raison d’état, military doctrine and consistent practice


Palestinian News & Information Agency (Wafa) in contract with APAimages, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Text by Joseph Schechla, HLRN

Israel’s targeting of homes, shelters and shelter seekers has characterized its ongoing genocide against the Indigenous Palestinian people in Gaza. Notably, this also features in the West Bank, as indeed across historic Palestine and throughout the history of Zionism, Israel’s state ideology.

To commemorate Palestine’s Day of the Land 2024, HIC-HLRN reports on how the world has arrived at the current situation by tracing one consistent feature of Israel’s practice. Coveting Land, Targeting Homes, Shelters and Shelter Seekers: Israel’s raison d’état, military doctrine and consistent practice explores Israel’s application of its military doctrine of targeting of homes, shelters and shelter seekers. This new publication has a background. It updates an earlier HIC-HLRN submission to the 2009 United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (Goldstone Commission), which Report noted “the extent of the destruction of residential housing caused by air strikes, mortar and artillery shelling, missile strikes, the operation of bulldozers and demolition charges… in the absence of any link to combat engagements with Palestinian armed groups or any other effective contribution to military action” [53].

That behavior also has a longer history. The Goldstone Commission was the first UN investigative mechanism whose methodology allowed for consideration of antecedents forming such a pattern of the occupying power’s actions. The HIC-HLRN’s inquiry and report to Goldstone concluded that Israel commonly attacks homes of Palestinians (and inhabitants of neighboring countries) to create displacement that forms columns and clusters of shelter seeker, whom Israeli forces, including warplanes, then routinely target.

The present dossier covers at least four forms of direct evidence: (1) official Israeli military doctrine in the form of Plan Dalet, dating to 1948; (2) official statements of commanders; (3) statements and social media posts of Israeli military personnel and political representatives; and (4) the pattern of actions. It concludes that the institutionalized nature of this behavior in the organs of the state makes the case to consider Israel’s targeting homes, shelters and shelter seekers as crimes of state. The report recommends actions by states in the international community that are rooted in both state obligations and required to meet public expectations.

The report is available here